With Esports rising quickly into the popular spotlight, and game soundtracks slowly creeping into popular music, video games are everywhere. If you truly love playing games and want to have a hand in developing them now is the time to do so. Demand for game developers is growing quickly in Shoreditch and throughout the UK. But game developing is often seen as a complicated and expensive process. If you’ve never created a game before, how do you get your foot in the door?
If you want to make games, you will definitely have to learn to code. You probably think of computer-code as a complicated mismatch of foreign characters straight out of an ’80s hacker film or the Matrix. In fact, those falling green characters in the Matrix are actually sushi recipes, so you can safely dispel the idea that coding in any way resembles that complicated mumbo-jumbo. Instead, coding is simply writing English instructions in a way that computers understand, instead of maths it is like learning a new language.
Companies looking to hire game developers look for experience in game design and production, a computer-science degree of some kind can be important but if you really want to get into game design, building up an impressive portfolio is even more integral. To build up a portfolio you need to spend time practising and developing concepts, that you can then demonstrate to potential employers. As you develop these concepts you will learn how to code and produce games, and they can then become fully fledged games in their own right! For example, Eric ‘ConcernedApe’ Barone began his incredibly popular game Stardew Valley as a portfolio project, but it developed into a fully-fledged indie game over the course of several years as his knowledge of game production increased with practice.
So where do you start? Lots of game development programs and coding platforms have very expensive licences. However, don’t let this scare you off as there are several pre-built game engines that allow you to start experimenting from the get-go these game engines often offer free and Pro versions, letting you experiment before you put any money down. Unity3D is a great example of such a pre-built engine which allows you to manage assets and areas visually, without having to write any code. This allows you to understand other nuances of video game design before you begin delving into the more complicated stuff.
When making games start simple, browser games such as Cookie-Clicker, Starburst or Bonanza Slots Online are fun to play and it is surprisingly easy to create similar instances. The mechanics of slots are quite simple to recreate, but the format also allows for sophisticated graphics, animations and interaction – they can be as simple or as complicated as the developer wishes, so they are great to track your progress. From there you can find other examples to copy and embellish before moving on to more original attempts. All the things you make can go in your portfolio, and all show a budding dedication and growing level of knowledge in video game production.
Game design can be an incredibly demanding job at times, but if you are truly motivated and love video games then you can quite easily get involved. Take the time to practice and build up a portfolio, before applying to jobs looking to train new and aspiring developers, there are plenty for you to choose from!